Periodontitis: early detection using the Periodontal Screening Index (PSI)

Periodontitis: early detection using the Periodontal Screening Index (PSI)

Periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. According to the Third German Oral Health Study results, over 80 per cent of the population suffers from gingivitis. Every third adult shows signs of moderate, and every seventh, even severe periodontitis. But this dramatic situation does not have to be because the dentist has the most modern diagnostic and therapeutic methods today. With early diagnosis and early therapy, gingivitis and periodontitis can be treated successfully. However, due to inadequate diagnostics, many periodontal diseases remain undetected in their early stages. With regular check-ups by the dentist, the dentist can take suitable measures at an early stage if necessary, e.g., a rapid test to check the periodontal pockets. The test works effortlessly and is entirely painless. The periodontal pockets are measured with the help of a so-called rapid test probe (“screening”). Every millimetre counts here.

Parodontaler Screening Index

A periodontal screening index (PSI) is a cost-effective method for the early detection of periodontitis that can be carried out relatively quickly and does not require a great deal of equipment. The examination is carried out with a special periodontal probe (WHO probe), with which the bleeding tendency of the gingiva and roughness of the subgingival tooth surfaces can be easily determined, and the depth of periodontal pockets can be measured.

The dentist uses the probe to check the depth of the so-called periodontal pockets. These are the invisible spaces between the gums and the teeth. “Although depictions of the use of the probes seem a bit uncomfortable at first glance, the test is painless even in the case of inflammation,” comments proven expert Dr Dietmar Austria, the investigation. At the same time, existing bleeding is registered and the dentist assesses the presence of tartar as well as overhanging fillings and crowns. Existing loosening, exposed tooth necks and root spaces are also recorded.


examination and treatment

For the examination, the teeth are divided into sextants, in which the findings are collected and assigned to five different codes. The result of this examination is the precise classification of the patient’s dental health. Five degrees of severity (from 0-4) are distinguished with the help of an index. Only the highest value is noted for each area, said Wolfgang Bengel, explaining the procedure. With code 0, the gingiva and periodontium are healthy. Codes 1 and 2 indicate gingivitis, and 3 and 4 indicate moderate or severe periodontitis.

Based on the results, the dentist will, if necessary, conduct a further, comprehensive periodontal examination and initiate appropriate therapeutic measures.

Genes are also responsible.

Periodontitis occurs more frequently in some families. Anyone who immediately thinks of infections occurring in people in close contact with one another is only sometimes correct. For a long time, research also groped in the dark about people who attach great importance to their oral hygiene and still suffer from periodontitis. Although poor oral hygiene promotes the development of periodontitis, this is not the sole reason for this.


We have significantly increased risk for one-third of the population.

Science now knows more answers to these questions: Certain patients are genetically associated with a higher risk of developing periodontitis. There is now a simple new test that can provide clarity about a possible risk of periodontitis. To do this, a cotton swab is rubbed over the oral mucosa, and the result is evaluated in a laboratory.

If an increased production of interleukin-1 is detected, there is a greater tendency to inflammation. Eventually, there is a risk of bone loss at the site in question. In any case, with regular prophylactic care, a corresponding improvement in the situation is possible. A very high-risk factor – smoking – should be avoided by the people concerned.


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